Ozzy Osbourne - Black Rain Review

by Zane Ewton

Ozzy Osbourne was always a divisive influence. As the voice of Black Sabbath and during his early solo career Ozzy created chaos that his fans adored and his enemies abhorred.

Even when Ozzy grew commercially, he was still a dangerous force. Well into the '90s, Ozzy was to be absolutely loved or absolutely hated.

Those old divisions are gone, giving way to Ozzy fans pre and post MTV reality show. Metal's wildest madman became television's favorite bumbling dad. Old fans wiped away disappointed tears with their mullets while new fans didn't know the difference between Black Sabbath and black licorice.

New fans were given a watered down Ozzy on the disappointing Down To Earth. When your guitarist voices his violent disinterest in the record before it is even released, it is safe to assume it won't be setting the world on fire.

Six years later, Ozzy has finally given new fans something to hang their hat on. Black Rain is a pleasant surprise. Ozzy is engaged and in fine voice. He claims this was the first record he has done sober.

Fortunately, a sober Ozzy is also a pissed off Ozzy. There are still the obligatory songs about how crazy he is and how much he loves his fans and his wife, but on tracks like "The Almighty Dollar" and "Civilize the Universe", Ozzy's sentimental whine on "Dreamer" has transformed into righteous indignation and angry finger pointing. This is an Ozzy I can get on board with.

Zakk Wylde plays the sideman to Ozzy so well. Officially his longest contributor, Wylde brings a lot of what he has been doing with Black Label Society into this record. That means big Sabbathy riffs and real guitar solos. Wylde frequently walks the border of incredible, but more than anything he is consistent.

Consistency is crucial for Black Rain. Nothing on here is going to equal the status of "Crazy Train" or "Suicide Solution", but it is top to bottom a worthy listen. Ozzy always has a fantastic band. This time around Blasko is on bass and Mike Bordin pounds the skins. Both are perfect fits for Ozzy's brand of rock and roll, and as always, they are rock solid.

We should all probably admit to ourselves that we will never hear another Blizzard of Ozz, or even No More Tears. That was a different time with different people. If Black Rain is everything Ozzy is in 2007, then he is still hanging in there with the best of them. It's probably the best we can hope for.

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